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10 Nov 2023

Five Key Aspects for Shaping the Future of Higher Education: A Vision for 2024

Oleh Dasapta Erwin Irawan

The outlook for universities in Southeast Asia in 2024 is influenced by various factors such as sustainability, innovation in education, economic and cultural factors, and the changing landscape of higher education. The strategic plans of universities in the region are increasingly incorporating the concept of sustainability, with a focus on sustainable domains (Stoian et al., 2021).

Innovation in education is also a critical area of research, with a specific emphasis on cost and time efficiency of learning (Serdyukov, 2017). Furthermore, there is a growing trend towards the adoption of innovative educational activities in higher education institutions, reflecting the importance of restructuring and modernizing the educational system (Kuchynska et al., 2022).

In the context of Southeast Asia, the rapid growth of the youth population is contributing to increasing trends in university enrollment, indicating a positive trajectory for higher education in the region (Salihu, 2020). Additionally, the role of universities is shifting from being solely education providers to becoming producers of scientific knowledge and technologies, aligning with the knowledge-driven economy (Dezi et al., 2018).

Moreover, the use of information and communications technology (ICT) is playing a crucial role in the changing landscape of higher education in Southeast Asia, particularly in developing countries (Hong & Songan, 2011).

Economic and cultural factors also play a significant role in shaping the excellence of universities in the region. Barriers to university excellence, such as economic factors and gross domestic product (GDP), are important considerations for understanding the dynamics of higher education institutions (Jabnoun, 2009). Furthermore, the alliance between countries in the BRIC group is influencing economic complexity and knowledge management practices, with India showing the most optimistic outlook for 2024 (Rubbo et al., 2018).

The international outlook of universities is also a key consideration, with a focus on global competitiveness and the impact of internationalization on universities (Acar, 2022). Transnational education and strategic coupling of higher education systems are being explored as strategies for regional economic development in countries like Malaysia and Singapore (Schulze & Kleibert, 2021).

Additionally, the status of university scientific research and its impact on firms’ innovation commercialization is being assessed, highlighting the evolving role of universities in driving innovation and economic development (Dezi et al., 2018).

To sum up, the future of universities in Southeast Asia in 2024 depends on many things. These include sustainability, new ways of teaching, economic and cultural influences, and changes in higher education. All of these factors together affect how universities contribute to knowledge, innovation, and the economy in the region.

Five Key Aspects for Shaping the Future of Higher Education: A Vision for 2024

1. Enhance access and equity

  • Expand access to quality higher education for all socioeconomic groups, including underrepresented minorities and individuals from rural and disadvantaged communities.
  • Promote inclusive education by addressing barriers faced by students with disabilities, refugees, and migrant workers.
  • Implement flexible and affordable learning options, such as online courses, blended learning, and micro-credentials, to cater to diverse student needs and preferences.

2. Strengthen regional collaboration and mobility

  • Foster regional collaboration among higher education institutions in Southeast Asia to promote exchange programs, joint research projects, and curriculum harmonization.
  • Establish a common higher education space in Southeast Asia, enabling seamless student mobility and recognition of qualifications across the region.
  • Encourage partnerships between universities and industries to develop industry-relevant skills and facilitate graduate employability.

3. Embrace technology and innovation

  • Integrate technology into teaching and learning processes to enhance student engagement, personalize learning experiences, and improve access to educational resources.
  • Utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies to automate administrative tasks, provide personalized feedback, and support adaptive learning.
  • Explore the potential of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to create immersive learning experiences and expand access to specialized training environments.

4. Promote lifelong learning and upskilling

  • Adapt higher education systems to cater to the needs of lifelong learners seeking to update their skills and knowledge throughout their careers.
  • Offer short-term courses, micro-credentials, and specialized training programs to address the skills gaps required for emerging industries and technological advancements.
  • Encourage collaboration between higher education institutions, industries, and government agencies to develop lifelong learning pathways and promote continuous professional development.

5. Address sustainability and social responsibility

  • Incorporate sustainability principles into higher education curricula and research activities to address environmental challenges and promote sustainable development in the region.
  • Encourage universities to engage with local communities and address social issues such as poverty, inequality, and social justice.
  • Foster a culture of social responsibility among students, preparing them to become active global citizens and contribute to positive social change.


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